Home Mental Health What you Need to Know about Bipolar Disorder & Treatments

What you Need to Know about Bipolar Disorder & Treatments

bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder was initially known as manic depression or manic-depressive sickness. It is a mental condition resulting in reduced activity level, capacity to carry out daily chores, focus, energy, and unusual mood swings.

These moods range from depressive episodes; hopeless times, indifferent, sad, or highly “down” to manic episodes; impatient, euphoric, significantly “up”, or energized behavior. Hypomanic episodes are weaker than manic episodes.

Typically, bipolar disorder symptoms can occasionally manifest in young people. It is discovered in the early adult or late adolescent years. Even though the signs and symptoms can vary over time, it necessitates lifetime therapy. Adhering to a prescribed treatment plan can aid in controlling symptoms and bettering the quality of life.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar I Disorder

It is identified by hyper or manic symptoms that are very intense to the extent the person needs emergency medical care or manic episodes that persist for about a week.

It is also common for the person to experience depressive episodes that stay for up to two weeks. If someone encounters depressed and manic symptoms at once, they are termed to be undergoing a mixed depression episode. Four or more depressed or manic episodes in a year are known as “rapid cycling”.

For one to be diagnosed with this type,

  • The person has experienced at least one manic episode.
  • There could have been a big depressing episode in the past.
  • The doctor must rule out other diseases like schizophrenia and delusional disorder.

Bipolar II Disorder

A sequence of hypomanic and depressed episodes characterizes it. However, the episodes are not as severe as those in bipolar I disorder. It is a different diagnosis, thus not a lower version of Bipolar I. Compared to those with bipolar I illness, those with bipolar II disorder may have more frequent depressive episodes.

Psychotic symptoms can also be present in bipolar II, but only when a depressive episode is present. A mixed mood episode is another possibility, in which you simultaneously feel symptoms of hypomania and despair. However, mania won’t occur if you have bipolar II. A manic episode will result in a bipolar I diagnosis for you.

To be diagnosed with this type, one must have had

  • one or more depressive episodes that lasted two weeks or longer. There have to be five or more symptoms of major depression.
  • at least one episode of hypomania
  • No other condition to account for the mood swings

Cyclothymic disorder or Cyclothymia

Recurrent depressive and hypomanic symptoms that aren’t prolonged or severe enough to be grouped as depressive or hypomanic episodes are what characterize it.

Its diagnosis includes;

  • Symptoms that are persistent for at least half of the two years and never go away for more than two months at a time, never meeting the complete requirements for an episode of hypomania or depression
  • Symptoms of despair and hypomania have alternated on and off for at least two years (1 year for adolescents and children)
  • Symptoms that are distressing and interfere with daily life and don’t correspond to another medical, mental health, or substance use condition

Cyclothymia is characterized by mood symptoms that fluctuate. These signs and symptoms might not be as bad as bipolar I or II. Even yet, they usually last longer, so when you have none, you often have less time.

Other unspecified and specified bipolar and related disorders

It is when someone exhibits bipolar illness symptoms that might not fit into either of the mentioned categories.

Signs and Symptoms

Bipolar disorder patients frequently experience mood episodes (moments of abnormally intense feelings, changes in sleeping patterns and activity routines, and unexpected manners without noticing any potential negative aftermaths). The mood episodes differ from a person’s typical behaviors and moods. The symptoms last for a larger part of the day throughout an episode or stay for a few days or even weeks.

Hypomanic/ Manic EpisodeDepressive Episode
Feeling touchy, extremely pleased, elevated, irritatedFeeling very anxious, or sad
Hyperactive feelingFeeling restless
Reduced urge to sleepHaving difficulty with sleep
Speaking on various subjects quickly (a “flight of thoughts”)Frequently forgetting things, feeling as though they have nothing to say, or speaking very slowly
Flustered thinking having that come and go swiftly, as well as strange notions that they might act on  Difficulty focusing or making decisions  
Having the capacity to multitask without becoming exhausted  Feeling incapable of performing even basic tasks.  
Excessive desire for sex, alcohol, food, or other enjoyable actions  Almost complete disinterest in activities  
Having an extraordinary sense of importance, talent, or strength  Feeling useless or sad, or contemplating suicide or death

A mixed-feature episode (combination of manic and depressive symptoms) can leave a person feeling both immensely energized and hopeless, profoundly unhappy, or empty.

Symptoms In Teenagers and Children

Identifying bipolar disorder symptoms in children and teenagers may be difficult. They may experience manic/ hypomanic, or major depressive episodes differently than adults with bipolar illness. A common symptom in children is excess mood swings. However, some children may go through a time without mood swings in between attacks. Emotions might sway and change suddenly when having an episode. Also, knowing if these mood fluctuations are usual, a sign of a mental health condition other than bipolar disorder, or the outcome of stress or trauma can be challenging.

Bipolar disorder can affect someone even when their symptoms are not as severe. For example, some persons with bipolar II disorder suffer a lesser form of mania, hypomania. A person going through a hypomanic episode could feel great and go about their everyday activities. Friends and family members may see variances in the individual’s level of activity or mood as symptoms of the suspected bipolar disease even if they feel all is well. If left untreated, hypomanic people run the danger of developing depression or severe mania.

It is essential to note that hyperactivity and attention-deficit disorder, substance abuse, and eating and anxiety disorders are common co-occurring problems in patients with bipolar disorder. Severe manic or depressive episodes can occasionally accompany psychotic symptoms, including delusions or hallucinations. The individual’s heightened mood often matches psychotic symptoms.

For example, someone going through a depressive episode while suffering psychotic symptoms might think their finances are in ruins. On the other hand, a person going through manic symptoms during a psychotic episode may have confidence in their abilities and believe they are well-known.

The person’s mood may be stable in between bouts for months or even years if they follow a treatment plan.

With therapy, many persons with bipolar disorder can work, pursue their education, and have fulfilling lives. However, if a patient’s medical treatment helps them feel better, they can stop taking their medication, which might cause the symptoms to return.

Causes and Risk Factors of Bipolar Disorder

The majority of studies concur that there is a chance that various factors affect a person’s possibility of suffering from the disorder; no one causes it.  They include;

Brain structure and functioning

Bipolar disorder victims may have brains structured differently from those who do not have the illness or any other psychotic problem, according to some research. Healthcare practitioners, instead of relying on a patient’s diagnosis and treatment plan on their diagnostic techniques or brain imaging, use their medical history and symptoms. If scientists are aware of the differences in brains, they may be able to better understand bipolar disorder and select the best treatments.


According to certain studies, people with particular genes have a higher probability of suffering from bipolar disorder. It involves multiple genes. Those with a sibling or parent with bipolar disorder have a probability of developing it, according to research. Learning more about the role of genes and their relationship to bipolar disorder will help researchers develop innovative medications.

Environmental Factors

A vulnerable person may go through their first episode as a result of, a “big loss”, abuse, mental stress, traumatic experiences, or other stressful life events.

Bipolar Disorder Treatment

It can be through medication or therapies.

Psychotherapy/ Talk Therapy

The term “psychotherapy” refers to various therapeutic techniques designed to aid a patient with identification and change in upsetting behaviors, feelings, and thoughts. It can provide guidance, information, and support to those suffering from it and their families.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a successful way to treat depression. It has been adjusted to address insomnia (sleeplessness) and can be especially helpful when used for the treatment of bipolar depression. It helps the patient to ;

  • Identify primary triggers and take action to mitigate them, such as stress
  • Determine the early warning signs of an incident and take action to control it.
  • Work on things that can keep your mood stable for as long as you can ask for aid from friends, family, and coworkers.

More recent therapies such as interpersonal and social rhythm therapy may be used to treat bipolar disease. An important area of ongoing study examines whether rigorous psychotherapy treatment might delay or prevent the onset of full-blown bipolar illness.


Drugs can support mood stabilization and symptom management. Most prescriptions are a combination of the following;

  • Lithium antidepressants, second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs), anticonvulsants, mood stabilizers to treat mania, and drugs for anxiety or sleep

Over time, the medicine may need to be changed by the doctor. The side effects of several medications vary from person to person.

The patient has to;

  • Let the doctor know about any additional medications you’re taking to lower the possibility of interactions and adverse effects.
  • Heed the advice of the physician concerning medicine and therapy
  • Discuss any worries about side effects, and if they believe their therapy is working, keep taking their prescription until their doctor says it is safe to stop.
  • Keep in mind that it may take some time for the drugs to take effect.

Medication should always be as prescribed by the doctor. Quitting taking them can lead to worsening symptoms.

Lifestyle Remedies

They include;

  • Keeping a consistent schedule
  • Eating a balanced, varied diet
  • Establishing a regular sleeping schedule and taking precautions to avoid sleep disruption
  • Exercise regularly

Some people utilize supplements, but it’s essential to first talk to your doctor about it. Some complementary treatments may interact with bipolar disorder medications, according to Trusted Source. They might exacerbate symptoms.

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